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2014 O’Brien Award Winners

Published: February 7, 2015 10:22 pm ET

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Standardbred Canada has announced the winners of the 2014 O’Brien Awards, which honour Canada’s champions in harness racing over the past season. The annual Black Tie Gala was held Saturday, February 7 in Mississauga, Ontario, at the Delta Meadowvale Hotel and Conference Centre.

The awards are named in honour of the late Joe O’Brien, an outstanding horseman and member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. O’Brien was born in Alberton, PEI.

JK Shesalady took home the O’Brien title as Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year honours. The daughter of Art Major was perfect in her juvenile season, scoring 12 victories and earning over $930,000 for her owner-breeders 3 Brothers Stables (Alan, Ronald and Steven Katz) of New York, N.Y.

She racked up wins in the Tompkins-Geers, the Eternal Camnation, and swept the Shes A Great Lady Stake at Mohawk Racetrack. She also won stakes at Hoosier Park and The Red Mile, and swept the Three Diamonds at Woodbine Racetrack and then ended her invincible season with wins in the elimination and final of the Breeders Crown. She equaled the world record for two-year-old pacing fillies with a 1:50.1 effort in winning the Shes A Great Lady Final at Mohawk.

Chris Christoforou, of Campbellville, Ontario, won his fourth title as Canada’s Driver of the Year. 2014 was a year of milestones for Christoforou as he surpassed 6,000 career wins in early November and then in mid-November, eclipsed $100 million in earnings. He scored 242 wins and drove horses to over $5.4 million in earnings. Christoforou last won this award in 2003.

Richard Moreau, of Puslinch, Ontario, successfully defended his Trainer of the Year title. Moreau has been a mainstay on the WEG circuit for over 10 years, and led all Canadian trainers in the wins and earnings charts last season. Moreau trained 241 winners and horses to $2.7 million in earnings and operates a large stable of claiming and conditioned horses.

Bill Davis, of Langley, B.C. won his second O’Brien Award for Horsemanship. Davis was the inaugural winner of this award in 2003 and put together some incredible stats in 2014, considering it was probably the most personally challenging year of his career. Davis lost 17 horses in a horrific barn fire in early June. Despite this major setback, he drove 139 winners and horses to $726,000 in earnings, while training 100 winners and horses to $584,000 in purse earnings.

Anndrovette took home her fourth consecutive O’Brien trophy as Canada’s top pacing mare. In 2014, at the age of seven, the daughter of Riverboat King continued to perform at her usual high standard, winning six of 22 races while adding $538,000 to her bankroll. That seasonal total pushed her career earnings over $3 million. She took a season’s best of 1:49.1 at Mohawk in winning her third consecutive Roses Are Red Stakes title.

Artspeak was voted Canada’s Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year. The Western Ideal colt won eight of 10 races which included a seven race win streak, and over $805,000 while taking on North America’s finest pacing colts. His winning efforts in stakes competition included a division of the Nassagaweya, the elimination and final of the Metro Pace in a season’s best 1:50.2 and the Governors Cup.

Lady Shadow took three-year-old pacing filly honours. The daughter of Shadow Play followed a productive two-year-old season with another outstanding year, winning six races and banking over $280,000. She turned a lot of heads with a sensational 1:49.2 lifetime best in an elimination of the Canadian Breeders Championships at Mohawk Racetrack.

Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt honours went to McWicked, who boasted 21 top three finishes from 23 starts and almost $1.5 million in earnings. He took a mark of 1:47.3 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in winning the Max Hempt Final in world record time. The son of McArdle put together a strong finish to his sophomore campaign with wins in the Breeders Crown Championship and Progress Pace.

Modern Legend, a son of Modern Art, bred, owned and trained by Dave Drew of St. Catharines won the Older Pacing Horse division. Last season saw him win five races and over $437,000. His most exciting performance of the season was a three length victory in the Canadian Pacing Derby at Mohawk Racetrack, Canada’s oldest harness stakes event in a career best 1:47.2.

Stubborn Belle was voted Canada’s Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year. She won five races and over $524,000 and was always a threat in stakes competition. The Taurus Dream filly posted a victory in the Peaceful Way Final at Mohawk, her richest payday on the season, and won half of her six Ontario Sires Stakes events.

Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt honours went to Habitat who enjoyed an impressive season, winning seven races and over $567,000 while taking a mark of 1:53.4 in the Bluegrass Stakes at Lexington’s Red Mile. The Conway Hall colt also added wins in the Kindergarten, William Wellwood Memorial Trot Final and Matron Final to his resume.

Riveting Rosie added another O’Brien to her owner’s trophy case, this time as a three-year-old. The Muscle Mass filly won five races and $438,000 for her connections, and was a top Ontario Sires Stakes performer, collecting four wins in six events.

Harper Blue Chip, the winner in the three-year-old trotting colt division, was on the board in 12 of 15 races last season and earned almost $700,000 for his owners. He was perfect in Ontario Sires Stakes competition with four victories to his credit. One of his most impressive races came in his third place showing in the Hambletonian.

Older Trotting Mare honours went to Classic Martine who won half of her 18 races and earned $452,000 while scoring victories in the Miss Versatility Final, the Armbro Flight and the Ima Lula Trot.

Intimidate, Canada’s Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year in 2012, took the hardware as Older Trotting Horse of the Year. The five-year-old son of Justice Hall raced 14 times in 2014 and earned over $655,000 for his owners. His most impressive start of the year was his final one on November 29, where he trotted to a 1:51.2 victory in the TVG Free For All at The Meadowlands Racetrack.

Robert McIntosh Stables Inc., & Al McIntosh Holdings Inc., won the Armstrong Breeder of the Year category. They have enjoyed considerable success as breeders during the last decade and manage to keep and race many of their homebreds. From 18 starters bred by the McIntoshes that raced last year, they won 56 races and almost $1.5 million in purse money.

Tyler Borth, 22, of Ingersoll, Ontario, won the Future Star Award following a season that saw him drive 99 winners and horses to $451,000 in earnings while training 17 winners and horses with purse earnings of $65,000.

The complete voting results will be released on Standardbred Canada’s website on Tuesday, February 10.

A complete list of winners follows.


2014 O’Brien Award Winners

Pacers

Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer
JK Shesalady - owned by 3 Brothers Stables, New York, NY

Two-Year-Old Colt Pacer
Artspeak –owned by Brittany Farms, Versailles, KY, Marvin Katz, Toronto, ON, Joe Sbrocco, Brecksville, OH, In The Gym Partners, Staten Island, NY

Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer
Lady Shadow - owned by Lindsey and Connie L Rankin, Lexington, MI

Three-Year-Old Colt Pacer
McWicked – owned by S S G Stables, North Boston, NY

Older Pacing Mare
Anndrovette - owned by Bamond Racing LLC, Brick – Joseph Davino, Clarksburg, NJ

Older Pacing Horse
Modern Legend - owned by Dave Drew Associates Inc., St. Catharines, ON

Trotters

Two-Year-Old Filly Trotter
Stubborn Belle - owned by Al J Libfeld, Pickering, ON and Parkhill Stud Farm, Peterborough, ON

Two-Year-Old Colt Trotter
Habitat - owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Fredericktown, PA, Our Horse Cents Stables, Clifton Park, NY, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Canonsburg, PA

Three-Year-Old Filly Trotter
Riveting Rosie owned by Parkhill Stud Farm, Peterborough – Don Allensen, Wyoming – J And T Stable Newmarket – John F Hayes, Sharon, ON

Three-Year-Old Colt Trotter
Harper Blue Chip - owned by Landmark 6 Racing Stable, Kingston, ON, David R McDonald, Cornwall, ON, David K Reid, Glenburnie, ON, George R Judson, Athens, ON

Older Trotting Mare
Classic Martine - owned by Hauser Bros Rcng Ent LLC, Orangeburg, NY – Susan M Oakes, Wilkes-Barre, PA, Conrad E Zurich, Fayetteville, NY, and Edwin J Gold, Phoenixville, PA

Older Trotting Horse
Intimidate – owned by Determination, Montreal, QC and Judith Farrow, Hemmingford, QC

HORSE OF THE YEAR
JK Shesalady - owned by 3 Brothers Stables, New York, NY

People Awards

O’Brien Award of Horsemanship
Bill Davis, Langley, BC

Armstrong Breeder of the Year
Robert McIntosh Stables Inc., Windsor, ON & Al McIntosh Holdings Inc., Leamington, ON

Driver of the Year
Chris Christoforou, Campbellville, ON

Trainer of the Year
Richard Moreau, Puslinch, ON

Future Star Award
Tyler Borth, Ingersoll, ON

STANDARDBRED CANADA MEDIA EXCELLENCE AWARDS

The Media Excellence Awards program, established by Standardbred Canada in 2008, is aimed at honouring exceptional work that covers Canadian harness racing in a manner that is extraordinary and of broad national appeal.

Outstanding Written Work
Dave Briggs – 'Desperate Situations'

Outstanding Broadcast
Woodbine Entertainment Group - North America Cup HD Broadcast

Outstanding Photography
Clive Cohen – Horses Racing In The Fog


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